SCIENCE CHINA Information Sciences, Volume 63 , Issue 9 : 192206(2020) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11432-019-2671-y

Controlling the depth of a gliding robotic dolphin using dual motion control modes

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  • ReceivedJul 21, 2019
  • AcceptedSep 2, 2019
  • PublishedJul 24, 2020


This paper investigates the performance of the dual mode, namely flipper mode and central pattern generator (CPG) mode, for controlling the depth of a gliding robotic dolphin. Subsequent to considering the errors in dynamic models, we propose a depth control system that combines the line-of-sight (LOS) method with an adaptive control approach (ACA) to deal with uncertainties in the model parameters. First, we establish a full-state dynamic model to conduct simulations and optimize the parameters used in later aquatic experiments. Then, we use the LOS method to transform the control target from the depth to the pitch angle and employ the ACA to calculate the control signal. In particular, we optimize the ACA's control parameters using simulations based on our dynamic model. Finally, our simulated and experimental results demonstrate not only that we can successfully control the robotic dolphin's depth, but also that its performance was better than that of the CPG-based control, thus indicating that we can achieve three-dimensional motion by combining flipper-based and CPG-based control. The results of this study suggest valuable ideas for practical applications of gliding robotic dolphins.


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  • Figure 1

    (Color online) Mechanical structure of the gliding robotic dolphin, showing the (a) conceptual design andprotectłinebreak (b) prototype.

  • Figure 2

    (Color online) Coordinate systems used in the model, showing the inertial, body, and fin frames.

  • Table 1  

    Table 1Technical parameters of the gliding robotic dolphin

    Parameter Value
    Size ($L~\times~W~\times~H$) $\sim$0.83 m$\times$0.38 m$\times$0.33 m
    Total mass $\sim$8.86 kg
    Power supply Li-ion battery (DC 24.6 V, 3200 mAh)
    Number of the body joints 4
    Drive mode RE13, RE16, RE30, EC16, Hitec HS7980
    Onboard sensors IMU (JY901), depth sensor (MS5837)
    Controller STM32F407

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